China sends new pandas to US for first time in 2 decades


Giant pandas Yun Chuan and Xin Bao are on their way to San Diego from China, marking the first panda loans to the U.S. in two decades. The pandas departed from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan province on Wednesday night. The loan was finalized in February after Chinese leader Xi Jinping suggested sending pandas to the San Diego Zoo to enhance Sino-American friendship following a meeting with President Joe Biden for the 30th APEC global trade summit in November last year.

  • About the pandas: Xin Bao, a “gentle and well-behaved” female born in July 2020, and Yun Chuan, a “smart and lively” male born in July 2019, received a celebratory farewell attended by dignitaries from both countries. Their journey includes fresh bamboo, fruits, vegetables and special cornbread, with a team of breeders and veterinary experts ensuring their well-being. The pandas will acclimate for several weeks before being available to the public.

  • Panda diplomacy: The San Diego Zoo has a history of panda research collaboration with China, dating back to 1994. The newest pandas mark the zoo’s renewed panda program about five years after the last pandas were returned to China in 2019. China loans pandas to more than 20 countries through its “panda diplomacy” program. China recognizes the bear species as significant for political and diplomatic purposes, particularly in locations where it aims to enhance influence or foster closer relations.

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